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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women

pregnant-vaccinationWhooping cough (pertussis) is a very contagious illness that can cause severe illness, especially in pēpi (babies) under 1 year old.

If you get whooping cough while you're pregnant or after your pēpi is born, there is a high chance you'll pass it on to your pēpi. Therefore, you should consider having the vaccine to reduce your risk of getting whooping cough.

If you have the vaccine, it's also thought that you'll pass on some immunity from whooping cough to your pēpi.

Getting the vaccine

The ideal period to be vaccinated is from 16 weeks of pregnancy to 32 weeks. This gives time for you to develop immunity that you can pass on to your pēpi before you give birth. This will help protect your pēpi from whooping cough until they're old enough to be vaccinated at 6 weeks.

You should have a vaccination during each pregnancy, even if you had a childhood whooping cough vaccination or one during a previous pregnancy.

The vaccine is available free of charge for all pregnant women from 13 weeks of pregnancy until they give birth.

It's also free of charge to parents or primary caregivers of pēpi admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit or specialist care baby unit for more than three days.

Your pēpi should still have their normal course of vaccinations starting at six weeks.

Other family members

All other people in your household and other close whānau (family) members (such as grandparents) should have a whooping cough vaccination as they could be at risk of passing it on to your pēpi baby . The vaccine isn't subsidised for adults, but it's free for tamariki (children) as part of the normal childhood vaccination programme.

Safety of the vaccine during pregnancy

Whooping cough vaccine has been used in pregnancy for many years and has been shown to be safe for mothers and pēpi.

As with all vaccines, there is a small risk of side effects. For this reason, you'll need to stay at the practice for 20 minutes after receiving the vaccine.

If you cannot, or choose not to have the vaccine during pregnancy, you should consider having it within two weeks of the birth of your pēpi. This will still protect you from whooping cough but may not give protection to your pēpi. The vaccine isn't subsidised after you've given birth.

Written by the Canterbury Immunisation Provider Group. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2021. Last updated February 2022.

See also:

Helping with fear of vaccination

Page reference: 45079

Review key: HIPRC-41255